Friday, March 6, 2009

MISQUOTATIONS -- English idioms sayings

Here we look at some of the most common mistakes...

What they say: Damp squid

What they mean: Damp squib

Nothing to do with a soggy octopus! A squib is an explosive device once used to ignite gunpowder in cannons. Squibs were originally made from parchment and sealed with wax. If they got damp, they would fizzle out or not light at all, hence meaning a disappointing performance.

What they say: On tender hooks

What they mean: On tenterhooks

Tenters were wooden frames used in the medieval times to make cloth. In order to stop the washed weave from shrinking during drying, it would be stretched on the frame and secured in place by hooks nailed into the wood. By the 18th century the term .on tenterhooks. described being in a state of suspense or anxiety.

What they say: Nip it in the butt

What they mean: Nip it in the bud

A pinch to someone.s backside might stop something before it develops (like any chance of romance). But what really needs to happen for something to be halted in its early stages is for it to be nipped in the bud, like a young rose.


4. Champing at the bit (chomping at the bit)


What they say: Mute point

What they mean: Moot point

A .mute. point would surely be unspoken! A .moot. point, on the contrary, is something open for debate. It links back to medieval England when judicial assemblies were called mots or motes.

What they say: One foul swoop

What they mean: One fell swoop

.One fell swoop. comes from Shakespeare.s Macbeth and means all at once. It is one of many phrases from the Bard that is misquoted.


What they say: All that glitters is not gold

See a pin ... not find a penny

See a pin ... not find a penny

What they mean: All that glisters is not gold

In Shakespeare.s The Merchant Of Venice the phrase is uttered by the Prince of Morocco. It means a showy article may not necessarily be valuable.


What they say: Batting down the hatches

What they mean: Batten down the hatches

The phrase was originally a nautical one. A batten is a strip of wood nailed across the hatch to keep it watertight in stormy weather.

What they say: Find a penny, pick it up

What they mean: See a pin, pick it up

Pins were expensive in the Middle Ages when the expression came into use. It appears in early nursery rhymes.

Adverse to (averse to)

"They can't do that - there'll be a human cry!"(hue and cry)


the road was dreadlocked instead of gridlocked.


THEY are everyday phrases we all use, but how often do we get them right?

A poll of 1,000 people has come up with the top misquotes in Britain.

Mark Holmes, from hearing aid retailer Amplifon who carried out the survey, said: .Technically these are called malapropisms. But we think most people simply mishear them and repeat their mistake over and over again..

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posted by u2r2h at 11:16 AM

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